Saturday, February 24, 2007

You just haven't earned it yet.

My car idles and I listen to the tape deck play Magnetic Fields "I don't want to get over you." Sitting between my legs is a bottle of wine, its warm against my lap, the warmth equal to the heat in my head. In front of me is a dead end street, not the kind you see in movies where there's a brick wall but just an ordinary dead end. There is a fence, and some grass behind it, the road ends, and the last house on the block is in sight. The night air is chilly but still the windows are slightly cracked letting in the cold wind. The slight draft causes my breath to be seen before me. Breathing out, my warmed air dissipates into the interior of my junk of a vehicle.

It'd been a hard day at work. Working at a restaurant for the past four years has given me some callousness to the drudgeries involved, yet today the incadessant stress of work came to a fore.

"No sauerkraut, actually I want saurekraut but can I get it without mayonaise?"
"Can I get a glass of wine, uh what type of wine do you have? Make it chilled. What sort of wine is chilled?"
"Why did the food take so long, this is outrageous! You said it'd take half an hour and its been almost an hour (inevitably this always comes from people whose sense of time is askew)."

Even the good service, the tables I turned with genteel grace stiffed me it seemed, barely giving me enough to cover taxes and tip outs. At the end of each shift 2% of the food sales go to the kitchen, 3% of the beverage sales go to the bar, 4% of the total sales go to the runners, and bussers alike. Additionally taxes cover 8% of my sales. In order to make any money I need to make at least 18% off of the tab that each customer has. Today while my sales were over 700 dollars I walked with only $70. With sales like those the average waitress will make over a hundred dollars.

What was worse though was my thoughts. Waiting tables is a constant multi tasking enterprise. Check on table one, get extra plates for table two, take an order from table four, drop off check at table three. With all the hurry about, and the pressure to increase sales, a pressure that comes not only from an incentive to make more tips, but also a pressure from management to sell more for their profit, my thoughts come in bursts.

"Check table five. What am I going to do about Katie? Why did she leave those pictures out of her trip? Get more water for table six. Cash in check from table three. Why would she leave them out? For me to see? Run credit card, shit, they're trying to split up the amount, some in cash, some in credit. Okay let's see fifty on the card. Done, twenty in cash, that's seventy. A five dollar tip on sixty-five, those motherfuckers. That's not even ten percent. Where the fuck is the manager? This extra beer has to be comped off of table seven."

The rest of the wine drips down my throat and I throw the bottle into the back seat. Turning on the headlights, my car begins to rumble as my foot presses the accellerator and my hand shifts the car into reverse. My car makes a slow three point turn, my concentration is muddled by the drink but my care for my driving is abysmally low. Moving the car about is like moving a tank, but with less precision, and less warlike utility. At the end of the block, my directional goes on, without thinking my legs, my hands, and so my car is in motion. The world is a blur but somehow I get to my apartment twenty blocks away. Turning off the car and taking the keys from the ignition gives me a feeling of sedate satisfaction. At least my making it home means that there will be more alcohol drunk. Stumbling up the two flights of stairs to my second floor apartment takes me a little while but I'm in no hurry. Once the apartment door is safely locked behind me I tear off my work clothes. They stink like the restaurant, they smell of sweat, grease, spoiled food, and old beer. Standing only in my underwear I open the refridgerator door, checking for beer. Scratching my belly I laugh at myself for the irony of my situation. Twenty-three and already an old alcoholic drinking over some piece of tale, just like all the other saps around town. While there is no beer, there is a twelve pack of booze that my roommate must have gotten. Opening one, and grabbing another I move into my bedroom where I sit on my bed. As quickly as possible I down the first beer and crack open the second. I sway over to my small writing desk with the grace that only a drunk can acheive. Grabbing a pen and a piece of paper I start to write a letter to Katie.

"You came into my life with such a terrific force, you gripped my soul, my nerves, my thought, my flesh, until all was blotted out, all else was silenced. Theories, considerations, principles, consistency, friends, nay even pride and self­respect. Only one thing remained, a terrible hunger for your love, an insatiable thirst for it. That explains my clinging, my holding on to you, I who never clung to anyone. That explains my agony when anyone would possess you at the exclusion of myself. Oh, please, don't give me your assurances, I do not believe in them.Your escapades, your promiscuity, tears my very vital, fills me with gall and horror and twists my whole being into something foreign to myself. . . . I have fought oh so hard against this ever­growing despair, but I know now I shall never never be able to overcome my repulsion every time my faith in you takes root again. Every time I see it sprout and blossom, you shatter it into a thousand fragments and leave me chilled to the core."

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